Israel's recent war against the PLO terrorists in Lebanon is the most powerful argument against the creation of another Palestinian Arab state (under whatever guise) in the so-called West Bank and Gaza. Should such a development ever occur, Israel would, at some future date, have to undertake military operations similar to those undertaken in Lebanon.

The circumstances that caused Israel to order its forces into Lebanon on June 6 are by now well-known and the objectives of "Operation Peace for Galilee" understood. For years, the PLO terrorists had used southern Lebanon as the launch pad for attacks upon the civilian population in northern Israel. There, from the safety of a neighboring sovereign state, the PLO had directed Katyusha rockets and long-range artillery shells toward Israel from a distance of approximately 25 miles.

Therefore, the first objective of "Operation Peace for Galilee" was to drive the terrorists beyond an imaginary 25-mile line so that Israel's northern towns and villages would be beyond the reach and out of the range of their rockets and guns.

But what would happen if there were to arise a Palestinian state or entity not subject to Israeli military control? It is the height of folly to suggest that the PLO would rest content with this accomplishment and would abandon all irridentist activity. As recently as July 1981, Farouk Kadoumi, head of the PLO political department, told a leading West German journal: "I shall make it perfectly clear to you we shall never recognize Israel, never accept the usurper, the colonialist, the imperialist. . . . We shall never allow it total security. Every Israeli will feel that behind every wall there might be a guerrilla who is aiming at me."

Clearly, within a short period, the PLO would once again acquire weapons, including long-range guns, place them among the civilian population of that "state" and resume the attacks on Israel. Any suggestion that the "state" would be "disarmed" or "unarmed" or demilitarized cannot be taken seriously. This is, after all, the Middle East, where a gun is as much a part of a man as his kaffiyeh and where gun- running is a major industry. Nor would the Soviet Union permit such an idyllic situation for long. Accordingly, we have to face up to the real world -- the world of a Soviet-armed PLO "state." But this time the circumstances could be far more serious. It is simply a question of numbers and vulnerability.

The total number of Israelis in the scattered frontier towns in the North is approximately 150,000. However, the areas that could be exposed to future attack from the PLO Katyushas and long-range runs in Judea-Samaria (the "West Bank") and Gaza contain 80 percent of Israel's civilian population -- more than 2.5 million people. Must they now be condemned to the ever-present danger of the sudden and unprovoked rain of rockets? Will they now have to rush for cover and their children spend nights on end in shelters?

Obviously, the government of Israel could not tolerate such a situation. Therefore, one day it would again have to order the defense forces to cross the borders with the aim of putting "the Israeli towns and villages out of the range of the terrorist guns," which means clearing an area of at least 25 miles.

A glance at the map shows that from any point on the West Bank and Gaza, the PLO would be in a position to lob its rockets and shells into Israel's civilian population areas. And in this case, they would not have to violate anyone else's sovereignty, as in Lebanon; they would operate unhampered from "their territory." In the North, Haifa is within range of such PLO guns. Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Ramat Gan, Bat Yam, Herzliya and Netanya in the coastal plain could easily be hit. Israel's international airport at Lod could be immobilized. And in the South, Beersheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod would be tempting targets. To strike Jerusalem, the nation's capital -- which would be virtually encircled by this Palestinian entity -- the PLO would not even require long-range guns: a range of two or three miles would be more than sufficient.

But since the "West Bank" is only 35 miles at its widest point and Jerusalem is recessed right in the middle of the area, it means simply that the armed Palestinians would have to be driven out of their own "state" or entity entirely, perhaps over the river into Jordan.

These are sufficiently compelling reasons for Israel not to yield security control in the areas. Israel's presence is the only safeguard against a repeat of the Lebanon situation. Jewish settlers should live in those areas side-by-side with the Arab population, and the Arabs should be free to manage their own affairs in all other respects.

That is exactly what was envisaged in the autonomy plan incorporated in the Camp David Accords. That is why Israel is striving so vigorously to preserve the letter and spirit of those accords. That is why it opposes any new proposals that deviate from, contradict or aim to supercede the original intentions.